The University of Mississippi

A Deciding Factor for Grad Students

Strong faculty and impressive labs attract students, but stipends are often the difference maker for graduate students.  To be competitive for top students, Ole Miss must increase funds available for recruitment.

Grad students know earning an advanced degree can take five to six years of tuition, housing and expenses, and result in years of financial burden. Graduate stipends help bridge the gap for students and allow them to focus on classwork instead of having to take a job outside the classroom.

UM must enroll more graduate students to maintain its Carnegie R1 Research highest research activity ranking. At the same time, competition for top graduate students has increased, while the number of graduate students has declined by about 15 percent in recent years.

For example, the Department of Art and Art History has $76,000 in its budget to award 16 graduate stipends of $5,000 each. The problem is that many top tier programs average around $15,000 for stipends. Programs in the middle tier often offer about $10,000. This gap puts UM at a major competitive disadvantage.

UM is fortunate to have faculty with talent, dedication and reputations of the Art and Art History faculty. The university also allows second-year students to teach, which strengthens their résumés, especially if they plan to teach at a university.

Each program is different. Science programs at UM do offer stipends closer to the national average, which is about $25,000 and up nationally, compared to approximately $22,000 and lower at Ole Miss. Even this small difference matters to students.

Investing in graduate stipends will bring in even higher quality students, improving UM’s overall research. Better research increases UM’s competitiveness for grant money and other funds.

UM also will seek summer research funds for graduate students and fellowships that allow doctoral students to focus solely on their dissertations. In addition, when the university can name supplements, research funds, and fellowships for the donor, the awards can take on more prestige. Departments can nominate their best students to be considered for the named and endowed assistance.

For more on how you can fund graduate stipends, contact Charlotte Parks, vice chancellor for development, at or 662-915-3120.